The Grizzlies didn’t yield a point for the first two minutes, 20 seconds of their game Tuesday night, and the defensive chokehold just got tighter and tighter. Memphis held the NBA’s highest scoring team well below its average and started a three-game road trip with a 98-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Moda Center. The Trail Blazers (33-13) entered the game putting up 109 points on 45.5 percent shooting per contest. But the Griz (23-20) held the Blazers to a season-low point total on just 34.5 percent shooting. “Our confidence is back,” Griz point guard Mike Conley said. “We believe we’re a good team. We believe we can beat anybody. We kind of lost that. But everybody feels comfortable again and we’re playing hard.” Just ask the Trail Blazers. Portland couldn’t breathe on offense from the start. Meanwhile, Conley and Zach Randolph combined to give the Griz a 10-0 lead after the opening tip. Memphis never trailed and led by as many as 24 points in the second half. About four minutes into the fourth quarter, Portland’s television play-by-play announcer pointed out that the Blazers scored on back-to-back possessions just six times in the game. The Griz simply kept the Blazers misfiring on the perimeter, and contested every shot in the lane. Portland missed its first 12 three-point attempts and was shooting 36 percent through three quarters while Memphis took an 81-58 lead into the final frame. “We’re just starting to click,” Griz coach Dave Joerger said. “The cement hasn’t really dried.” The Griz are certainly making an imprint. They’ve won three straight games and eight of the last nine. Memphis also ended Portland’s five-game home winning streak. “We’re getting our chemistry right,” Randolph said. Blazers coach Terry Stotts agreed with Randolph’s succinct assessment. “We caught a team that’s trying to put it together,” Stotts said. “They’re on a roll and they’re playing very well. They showed that in the first half. …Give Memphis credit. They made their perimeter shots. They penetrated. I thought defensively in the second half we did an excellent job but the offense didn’t quite catch up with it. The hole was too big.” Randolph led the Griz with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Conley added 19 points. Randolph spent a lot of time licking his fingertips, and he had reason to because he regularly connected on his feathery jump shot.
Grizzlies limit Blazers offence to season low, 98-81
Memphis Commercial Appeal | Jan 29